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Why Ecommerce has never been easier… and harder to get right.

| 5 minute read | By Julie Austin
Ecommerce jumped forward 10 years in just 90 days at the height of the pandemic. And even with a less linear road than initially forecast, its trajectory is set to rise, as more than eight in ten brand owners consider DTC key to their future success.

Whether you are a brand with an established DTC channel looking to grow or a brand new to this realm, there’s a wealth of benefits and growth opportunities that only having a direct relationship with your customer can deliver.

But there are challenges.

Yes, it’s never been easier to sell online. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone will visit your channel, or that you can afford to drive them there with increasing acquisition costs and loyalty being harder to gain than ever. And just because you can sell it doesn’t mean people will buy it. Brands can’t simply rely on the end product – you need to give your customers a valuable reason to shop with you versus buying in retail or on a marketplace.

Further, brands have their concerns.

One in six2 brand owners aren’t confident that they can deliver their DTC strategy. Whereas seven in ten3 businesses use multiple suppliers to help them implement their online strategy it’s not surprising that brand owners are concerned over the complexities and frustrations managing numerous third-party organisations can cause. The more fragmented the delivery of a strategy becomes, often the harder it is to keep to the core of the purpose of why you were doing it.

The good news is that businesses can overcome these obstacles and feel empowered to deliver their DTC strategy. Here are four considerations to help your brand reap the benefits of a strong ecommerce presence:

1. Be clear on who you are and deliver on it 

Setting yourself apart from the competition is essential to ensuring your DTC channel is successful.

If you already have a product in the wider marketplace, you’re already off to a good start, as people will hopefully know what it is or understand how it works (although don’t assume that’s the case!). However, they’ll need a reason to switch from buying it from a retailer to buying it on your website.

There are also positives to DTC being your only channel, such as avoiding the hassle of passing along your goods to distributors and overseeing the entire branding and packaging process. But in this case, you’ll need to create awareness around your product, which often means investing significantly in marketing.

In both scenarios, differentiating your value proposition from others is vital, whether providing unique expertise, offering perks, or having company values that resonate with your customers. Your mission is to find what makes you stand out and give people a reason to come to you for what they need…and not someone else.

2. Meet and exceed expectations 

Your brand is the customer’s experience. And while the marketplace gives you reach, the highest expectation of your brand will be in DTC. Unfortunately, this is a struggle for many businesses, as more than half4 of brand owners find it hard to keep up with consumer and customer expectations.

You must first be consistent in tackling this and not only meet but exceed your customers’ expectations. If your company exists across multiple channels, you must deliver the same message and quality of service across the board. 

You must ensure that every aspect of your DTC channel is convenient for your customer, from the checkout stage to the returns process, and that everything runs smoothly. A seamless value chain is just as important as the actual product that the customer receives, and any hiccup within their purchase journey could make them switch to another brand.

3. Build loyalty

The value of your brand is in its ecosystem – specifically, its product and access. You have a greater chance of building loyalty among your customers if you can’t be found anywhere else but your own channels.

And while loyalty can be earned by collecting points or membership rewards, the best way to gain it is by meeting your customer’s needs and making them feel valued. From delivering a product as expected from the first purchase, addressing a customer’s concerns when something goes wrong, or having a purpose, your customer believes in. As Salesforce data reveals, 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services5.

One of the main advantages of DTC is access to first-party data. Pivotal in helping to create experiences tailored to your customer’s needs, but nine in ten6 brand owners consider access to data as central to building their brand.

DTC brands don’t always have the scale and awareness that comes with retail, so building loyalty to guarantee repeat business is essential to your success. Remember though, people remember how you made them feel, more often than the thing they bought – showing up through the full buying process and beyond is essential to create advocates, not transactions.

4. Creating long-term value

Although there are advantages to the traditional marketplace, DTC gives brands control, agility and the freedom to innovate. But while it may look simple at first glance, it’s important to remember that one misstep could, at best, lose you a customer or, at worst, damage your brand’s reputation for good.

That said, conquering DTC needn’t feel like an impossible or arduous task. If you start by pinpointing what makes you unique, you can tailor your online presence around your identity and start drawing attention away from your competitors. And when it comes to running your channel’s operations, partnering with a platform that can manage the end-to-end process will help save you time and money and ensure a positive overall experience for your customers.

In DTC, long-term success comes from gaining accurate insight into your customers’ needs and keeping them happy. They are no longer transactions but part of a community—and what could be more valuable than that?

Find out how we can help your brand deliver more by talking to our team